Tsongkhapa. Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayāna Practice. Trans. by Gareth Sparham. Foreword by Jeffrey Hopkins. Boston, Mass.: Wisdom Publications, 2005. Paperback, x + 189 pp.
Any work by Je Tsongkhapa is bound to be profound and clarifying. The present discourse entitled Fruit Clusters of Siddhis fully meets this expectation. Skillfully and lucidly translated here by Gareth Sparham, who teaches Tibetan language at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Fruit Clusters of Siddhisrepresents an authoritative exposition of the Tantric vows.
These vows are taken by Vajrayāna practitioners in addition to the prātimoksha monastic vows of Hīnayāna and the bodhisattva vows of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Je Tsongkhapa’s treatise offers a detailed discussion, which is meant to assist Tantric practitioners on the bodhisattva path in understanding these vows correctly and in enabling the purest possible moral practice.
As with the other writings of Je Tsongkhapa, the present text overwhelmingly demonstrates that we are in the presence of a superb master of Yoga whose knowledge of the scriptures is unparalleled and whose own consummate realization allows him to speak with great insight and authority.
More than anything, Fruit Clusters of Siddhisdrives home the all-important point that we cannot hope to succeed on the spiritual path unless we pay scrupulous attention to the details of our moral life. Reading this work carefully, lay practitioners will be able to readily appreciate the rigors of the kind of monastic discipline within which the Tantric teachings were and, at least in principle, still are cultivated. As Je Tsongkhapa explains in his conclusion to this text: “So, first consecration is important, and properly obtaining the pledges and vows; then endeavoring to guard against lapses, and virorously repairing any root pledge you may have broken in spite of your endeavor. Then, having done that, with pledges and ordination intact, studying, contemplating, and cultivating the mantra path—take this to be the Vajrayāna’s vital point.”
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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